Pronouns are language, and language evolves over time
Pronouns are a thing now. Actually, they always were, but now that more people are becoming more recognized as deserving to be seen as they see themselves, it has become a matter of some controversy.
Let us do some thought experiments. Let’s say you are a woman, see yourself as a woman, are perfectly happy to be called “she”, but then someone disrespectfully insists upon calling you “he”. (We are not going into all the possible, even more disrespectful, terms often used, here.)
The problem you have is being disregarded for your choice. But the problem your detractor has is more serious. In most cases, someone who cannot respect others has some very deep seeded security issues. For whatever reason, his need to control what terms you use to define yourself outweighs in his mind, your personal autonomy to be yourself.
People do not like “they” because of the confusion over the plural usage. When we say “They lost their ball over the fence”, for example, the listener does not know if “they” refers to more than one person. Zi, Ze, Zis, Zir and Zer have other issues. Perhaps the first of these, for now anyway, is that they are not becoming universal very quickly. Another is pronunciation. And, then there are so many variations.
One blog I read recently was enthusiastic about “it”.
Making “it” a pronoun would result in sentences like: “I like’s It’s jeans.” Well, first there is the possessive versus contraction problem (“It is contracts to “It’s”). But , also, the word “it,” to most minds, is even more disrespectful. For some people, asking about a kitten, or newborn, “Is it a boy or a girl?” is innocent enough, but if we’re talking about your kid’s teacher, “it” seems more than a bit rude.
When your daughter dies of cancer you don’t say “We buried it at Sunny Crest Cemetery.” You might use ‘it’ about your dog or cat, this way, but to most people, even this is graceless. Didn’t you love Mr. Whiskers, or Miss Kitty enough to find out whether he was good boy, or she was a good girl!?
And even in the forest, we have learned trees can be moms and squirrels can be boys. Why not use accurate language to reflect and respect that?
Ki can be used for he, she, me, tree, bee and even sweetpea
A proposal from biologists, botanists, naturalists and indigenous people suggests the pronoun “Ki”. There is, in fact, a confluence of origins.
Ki can be pronounced as “Chi,” the life force in many Eastern traditions. The plural of Ki is kin, from many Indo-European languages. In some Native American languages, Ki refers to Bima-adiz-i-aki, for “Being of the Earth.” The last two letters of this non-tripping off the tongue, Amerindian word, are, of course, K and I. Ki.
When uncertain of a preferred pronoun, Ki works well. One would say: “Ki wrote this book, Ki’s name is Kelly Smith. Ki has wonderful travel tips.”
The plural for Ki, is Kin. You might say, “Kin are flying over my house right now, like all parrots, they are so noisy!” Or, “Kin people are really enjoying pride this month!”
Ki is my personal favorite. Although no doubt many people will bristle at the idea of sharing “being-ness” with animals and plants, to my mind, our entire thinking about our factual status as animals, and our belonging to one world is the whole point.
Start seeing each other as kin, as family, as people, and we become better stewards of both civilization and the planet.
It may not be easy, at first, to think of every apple tree as a Ki, but when we do make an effort to respect ALL life, we have no choice to begin with our own species and pay it forward from there.
Political correctness changes society no matter who objects
There is an immense backlash to political correctness right now. But if we look at the long arrow of history, we find that any idea once objectionable, will conform over time to become common sense — if it’s sensible.
Look at the N word. Even in today’s news there is an uproar about Facebook accounts by police officers who used the N word, and/or racial slurs. The N word is no longer appreciated, used, or tolerated in polite society. And there is good reason for this.
Over time, people stopped insisting on calling women, “Miss or Mrs.” Today, if someone wishes to be called “Ms”, it’s no longer as much of an uphill battle. Some people still call grown dancers, or even pregnant women, “girls.” They understand, however, that calling a grown man of color “boy” is something we frown upon. “Sir’, has caught on very well in respectable use.
Even though we have a long way to go, the journey of a million styles begins with a single step.
More and more people are understanding that not only are we a family of humanity, we are a species among many other animals, all of which are not necessary for the preservation of our world.
Porpoises and Planets are Beings too
Let’s look at porpoises for a moment. If you are out on a boat and lucky enough to see a porpoise, or dolphin, you know you have encountered an intelligent species, a fellow mammal, and someone who can use language, bubble tools, and social intelligence for survival. It makes much more sense (unless you are a cetacean expert who definitively knows sex characteristics) to call the porpoise Ki.
“Look, Ki is right there! There’s more of them. Kin are following us!”
There are many reasons why we wish to connect to other species. We value their beauty, intelligence, and skill. We wish to know we belong in the world, so are eager to acknowledge their belonging. The world is in danger when some humans dehumanize others to the point of hurting ourselves.
It is the same with human beings. When we seek to be politically incorrect just for the sake of being a jerk, or setting ourselves apart, we do the opposite. We set ourselves up as people who suffer some kind of insecurity severe enough that the distancing is apparent.
We have to ask why are we creating this distance, this distinction? Why do we think we are so special? It may well be because we want to affirm that we are “Better than them.”
And that is decidedly not the case.